How is your hearing?

Published 4:44 pm Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Staff Report

May, as “Better Hearing Month,” is a reminder that hearing loss affects millions of Americans, and everyone should understand the significance of getting checked. Hearing loss has significant impacts on the quality of life of those affected, and early diagnosis and treatment can improve outcomes.

 Mary F. Vasiloff with Hearing Associates in Oxford cautions “There are many consequences to untreated hearing loss. These range from aggravation of not being able to clearly hear and understand conversation, frustration of family members, and isolation from social events. There are many new studies that prove that hearing loss which remains untreated can lead to early onset of dementia. This tells us how important knowing about hearing loss and getting them treated is.”

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According to data from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, nearly 15% of Americans, 37.5 million people aged 18 and over, report some degree of hearing loss. The percentage of Americans with hearing loss increases with age: Approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those over 75 are affected.

Vasiloff advises “People who wonder if they have hearing loss should schedule an appointment with an audiologist for a hearing evaluation. The hearing test is the quickest and easiest way to know if they have a hearing loss and if so what kind it is. Some hearing losses can be medically corrected.  Some are able to be helped with hearing aids. An audiologist will be able to tell them what kind, if any, hearing loss they have.”

Ignoring hearing loss can have significant consequences, not just for hearing. According to healthcare professionals, untreated hearing loss can cause people to feel isolated and lonely. Furthermore, hearing loss has been linked to conditions such as depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline and can also cause communication difficulties with colleagues and loss of productivity on the job. 

For people experiencing hearing loss, there are various treatment options available. The primary treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids, which boost sound and make it easier for people to hear. Numerous manufacturers have introduced advanced hearing technology, with features such as noise reduction, tinnitus reduction, and bluetooth compatibility.

Early detection and treatment of hearing problems are crucial. Experts encourage people to consider getting a hearing exam if they have trouble hearing or following conversations, require people to speak louder, or have to turn up the volume on the television often.

Hearing exams provided by qualified audiologists can determine the severity of hearing loss and identify the cause. Regular hearing check-ups are recommended to catch any problems early on, especially for those working in noisy environments where hearing damage can occur. Various employers also offer hearing assessments as part of their health and wellness programs.

May, designated as “Better Hearing Month,” should be a reminder that hearing loss is a critical issue, and early detection and treatment are essential. People must take the necessary steps to prioritize their hearing health, especially during a pandemic, where isolation and social distancing can lead to increased hearing difficulties.